Doug Schnitzspahn reviews Voormi Core Construction

Three-layer construction has long been the standard when it comes to the integration of a waterproof/breathable membrane in a technical shell.

That technology works through lamination  a waterproof/breathable membrane is sandwiched, or laminated, in between face fabric and liner (or simply to the face fabric itself in a two-layer fabric), allowing for manufacturers to not just offer protection from weather but also impart the qualities of a membrane into a wide combination of fabrics that feel and look good.

The most famous of these fabrics is Gore-Tex, launched in the mid 1970s when Gore first began to build laminate constructions, launching the first two-layer laminate in 1980. That method has spread to nearly every brand and fabric manufacturer in the industry now, whether they, like Gore, use PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) membranes, polyurethane, or even other green options. No matter what, the construction of high-performance waterproof-breathable fabrics requires a laminate. Those days could be changing.

At the Snowsports Industry Association (SIA) show in Denver this past week, Colorado-based apparel and fabric manufacturer Voormi introduced a new fabric it hopes will turn that lamination standard on its head. Called Core Construction, the fabric builds waterproof/breathable performance into a single-layer protective fabric  in Voormi's case American sourced wool. Instead of sandwiching or laminating the membrane to wool, Voormi’s process builds the permeability and protection of a membrane into the weave of the wool itself.

According to Voormi marketing director Timm Smith, that means the wool, or any fabric or yarn, is not beholden to the membrane. “Because we can essentially decide how many yarns go through, there are a lot of things that we can do. We can dial up or down to create a wide spectrum of fabrics, from stuff that is slightly wind yielding to stuff that seals out a significant amount of water." After everything is weaved together, Voormi seals the construction  creating watertight closures between the weave-throughs — then coats the exterior with DWR for protection.

At SIA, the brand showed off its Access Hydro shell ($299), a hooded pullover built with Core Construction; the Drift Hydro ($399) a Core Construction piece that adds wool insulation to that layer to create a soft-shell-type garment with hard shell attributes (it won a Gear of the Show award from Outside magazine); and its AN/FO Concept jacket ($600), which, in this case, does laminate the Core Construction layer to a wool face fabric. But Voormi is not simply planning to use Core Construction in its own apparel. The brand is seeking other partners since is feels that the fabric is big enough to change the industry.

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